By Lofton Wheeles
For the Opelika Observer
Keep Opelika Beautiful is currently hosting its Litter Lift Friday campaign, a campaign that aims to fight against litter in Opelika.
Litter Lift Friday takes place on Fridays at 9 a.m., and volunteers meet in different parts of Opelika to pick up litter. The campaign started due to a noticeable increase in litter in Opelika and due to pandemic-related issues involving litter.
“We’ve noticed an increase of litter, but then I’ve also spoken with several [people], mostly retirees, who feel like they’re just stuck at home,” said Keep Opelika Beautiful Executive Director Tipi Miller. “So, I just decided that let’s just combine those two issues to have a solution.
“And my solution is Litter Lift Friday where I encourage anyone of any age to meet us on every Friday at 9 a.m. at various locations – it’s not a set location – and we pick up litter.”
Miller believes that helping pick up litter outside is a great way to get exercise and fresh air in a time where trying to find socially distant exercise is difficult.
“It’s great exercise, and it’s not strenuous, but you are walking so it is exercise,” she said. “It’s fellowship. It’s social interaction. But it’s from a distance so you’re not stuck in a room together. You can be as far away from people as you want to, but you can still interact with them here in the fresh air. I mean how much better does that get.”
The campaign also looks to help out the community by giving citizens the opportunity to give back to the city through the clean-up efforts.
“It’s to help our community members at any age and any skill level,” Miller said, while discussing the goals of Litter Lift Friday. “[It’s] just to get people outside and get people active in a healthy, safe environment. That’s one part of the goal.
“Another part of the goal is to just clean up litter. Just to make Opelika more beautiful. Studies have shown that the people who pick up litter are less likely to litter. And so, we love involving volunteers of all ages, all stages, everything because if you ever spend your morning picking up litter, I promise you’ll never litter again.”
Miller went on to talk about the camaraderie that is experienced through picking up litter to create a better Opelika.
“I love being with these volunteers,” she said. “I have gotten to know people that I would have never met in life. Mostly because they’re maybe retired, and we just don’t follow the same social circles because they’re retiring and I’m far from that age. So, I just enjoy our conversations.
“We get out there and nobody is smarter than anybody, nobody picks up litter better than anybody, nobody’s faster than anybody. It’s just like you’re all on a level playing field and you can just get to really know people in that environment, and so that’s really my favorite part.”
Miller also shared her sentiments about doing this campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It sounds crazy, but I don’t know if I could do this campaign if it weren’t for the pandemic because people are anxious to get out of their house and do something,” she said. “I honestly wish I thought of this campaign months ago because I probably could have kept it going for a long time. I think the pandemic is a perfect situation for people to get outside and be outside in a safe environment where they feel comfortable, and so that’s definitely helped.”
Materials to help pick up litter such as bags, gloves, vests and grabbers will be provided to volunteers to keep from picking up litter with their bare hands, according to Miller.
For more information, you can contact Tipi Miller at email@example.com.